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Tajikistan: Poor country's most expensive trial

The poorest country in Central Asia, Tajikistan initiated the most expensive trial in the history of British legal proceedings. Tajikistan will pay 120 million USD for the legal fees which represents 5,2 percent of the country’s entire GDP. A bone of contention is the Tajik Aluminum Company (Talco), fully owned by the state. The Tajik side accused its partners of fraud.

Registan earlier linked to the article of John Helmer about this trial.

The High Court in London is considering a trial this year of claims to money, estimated to be as high as US$500 million per year, disappearing from the Tajikistan Aluminium Plant (TadAz, Talco), whose principal trading partner is Hydro Aluminium, the state-controlled Norwegian aluminum producer.

Then Joshua Foust goes on and comments on it.

In essence, several hundred million dollars are missing, possibly moved through Caribbean front companies, and everyone is suing or has sued everyone else to find out what really happened.

Ian at Beyond the River links to an article in Asia Times.

Herbert Smith, one of the largest-billing of British law firms, has been forced to reveal this month in the High Court in London that it is charging the Tajikistan government more than US$100 million for a three-year court claim ordered by Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov (Rahmon). Rahmon’s targets are a group of aluminum traders and managers, now based in London, who were ousted from the Tajikistan Aluminum Plant (TadAZ, Talco) after getting too close to the president’s interest in Tajikistan’s principal industry.

According to Ian,

This all has a lot to do with a) the best natural resource Tajikistan has, aluminum; and b) the deal between RusAL, the Russian aluminum company, and the Tajik government to build a new aluminum plant as well as to complete the Rogun Hydroelectic Dam. That dam that the Tajik government is now begging for private donations for.

Indeed, this trial astonishes everyone who sees the amount of legal fees and compares them to the GDP of Tajikistan. It exceeds more than ten times the amount that the mayor of Dushanbe wants to raise from the Tajik capital residents for construction of Rogun dam, which may give Tajikistan sufficient electricity supplies.

Tojvar is wondering [tj] where our officials are going to take this money from:

Seems like we need to slaughter all our horses, cows and sheeps to raise money, which will not be enough to cover even half of the fees. Now I’m wondering to what extent these officials are shameless that [they spend so much money for legal fees] and put their arms in pockets of poor people to get money for construction of Rogun. What should the poor people do?

The Tajik aluminum could be a great source of funneling money to the budget and get the country out of the severe economic crisis. Last year Talco reported on its profit, and it is quite huge. However, Central Asia thinks that corruption will minimize the profit, which will make no difference for the country.

It’s great to hear that Tajikistan has a commodity that could fund some serious domestic development, but, unfortunately, corruption and switched contracts are turning this potential cash cow into mincemeat. Talco continues to default on loans and contracts, and Tajikistan has asked the international community to forgive the debts–with a USD 1.2 billion annual income, it’s kind of hard to see why Talco can’t pay.

Tajikistan has enough resources, but endemic corruption makes revenue from these resources fill the pockets of only few people. If we could use our resources rationally, we could have already built both Sangtuda-1, 2, Rogun and many other vitally necessary energy projects, which would help us to have independent electricity and heating supply.

Finally, Ian at Beyond the River makes an excellent roundup about this trial and reports on the murder of one of the major persons involved in it.

Also posted on neweurasia.

2 comments

  • Amazing how big a portion of the GDP this represents! In the United States I am sure major court cases commonly run up much bigger bills.

  • Anna

    How shocking. My boyfriend in Tajik became very sick as a result of the loss of heat for hours at a time, daily last winter. The money could be better spent improving the power.

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